Ask Cavers: Who are the Most Celebrated Cavers?

April 10, 2013
Paparazzi in London.

Paparazzi in London. Photo by internets_dairy/flickr

Most activities have at least a few figures who’ve risen to celebrity status among their peers, caving is likely not an exception.

For this week’s Ask Cavers question we want to hear who the underground celebrities are, and what they did to achieve their fame.

Share your thoughts and comments in the discussion below.

Fun fact: This question was almost phased as ‘who are the caving rock stars?’ but that would have undoubtedly caused confusion due to the strong connection between caving and music.

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Comments (28)

  1. Bill
    April 10, 2013 at 2:26 pm

    Of course any discussion has to include Roger Brucker and Floyd Collins

  2. Conan
    April 10, 2013 at 2:46 pm

    There are no celebrities in caving. There are only the guys who cave, and the guys who hump other caver’s legs.

  3. alfred crabtree
    April 10, 2013 at 3:11 pm

    Marion O. Smith and Bill Walter represent TAG!!

  4. Scott
    April 10, 2013 at 3:42 pm

    Bill Cuddington, Bill Stone

  5. April 10, 2013 at 5:35 pm

    Without doubt J. Ratt!

  6. April 10, 2013 at 7:30 pm

    I agree with Bill, Floyd Collins definitely needs to be included.

  7. April 10, 2013 at 9:11 pm

    I’ve got to go with some Frenchmen: Norbert Casteret and Eduard Martel for their explorations, and Michel Siffre for his underground stays and what we learned about the human body’s response to lack of light.

  8. DC
    April 11, 2013 at 9:12 am

    A second for MOS and BW. Not only do they represent TAG, they are the two most prolific cavers who have ever lived. MOS has the ability to confirm this, believe us when we say that. I would also add Alan Cressler to this list because he is third on the prolific list and has contributed to many of the angles upon which one can approach caving including exploration, written and photographic documentation, archaeological and biological investigations and the mentoring of the next generation of cavers, one of whom was on the most recent Huautla push.

  9. April 11, 2013 at 11:08 am

    I think that if you want to know who the best in the west are look at the teams slated for Snowy River exploration trips. These “strong and light” teams are going in for 34 hours at a time, and mapping a mile of new passage on each of these mega-day trips. It’s the furthest place on the planet from an entrance and everyone involved gets “rock star” status.

  10. Jack
    April 11, 2013 at 1:04 pm

    I would say that Floyd Collins has to be the most recongized name when people talk about caving. Even though he is famous for how he died, if you ever cave where he did and see what he discovered before modern day caving, the man was a caving machine and did more than most realize.

    • April 11, 2013 at 1:44 pm

      Is hike I think Floyd Collins was a great caver, I think that would be like saying that Clark Gable is famous. I think the question is more about current times, I thought Bill Stone was a great answer.

  11. anon
    April 11, 2013 at 1:33 pm

    George Dasher

  12. drew
    April 11, 2013 at 7:26 pm

    Jim Currens for his work in Mammoth Cave. Pat Kambesis for her work in Lech.

    • April 11, 2013 at 9:58 pm

      Pat Kambesis for both Lech and Sistema. Well, everywhere really!

  13. lotus
    April 11, 2013 at 9:55 pm

    Marion O Smith, Floyd Collins, Stephen Bishop (Mammoth Original), Bill Walter,

  14. Karen K.
    April 13, 2013 at 7:16 am

    There are so many cavers who contribute above and beyond the norm. A few that immediately popped into my mind but haven’t been mentioned are: Art & Peggy Palmer, Will White, & George Veni (geology), Bill Steele (exploration), Dave Bunnell & Chris Howes (photography), John Holsinger, Bill Elliott & James Reddell (biospeleology). We are a lucky group to have so many outstanding contributors. And for longevity in the caving world – Bill Russell (Tx) & Don Anderson (VA).

  15. Mike Costello
    April 13, 2013 at 10:57 pm

    Marion O Smith, Bill Walter they have seen more virgin cave than about 90 % off all cavers. Bill is humble and you have to pry info about from himself but you see his name everywhee in books about mammoth and blue springs . Having set around a campfire with him he is a legend.

  16. Charlie
    April 13, 2013 at 11:48 pm

    I agree with Conan. Though I do admire certain cavers for their passion I feel too many people live caving through others by talking about that individuals exploits instead of achieving their own.

  17. Bonny
    April 15, 2013 at 1:11 pm

    Herb and Jan Conn

  18. Bruce Zerr
    April 15, 2013 at 8:03 pm

    How many cavers do you know who have mapped over 70 miles of virgin cave passage….Herb and Jan Conn get my vote.

  19. Anthony Ledford
    April 16, 2013 at 5:23 pm

    Hubert crowell,Larry Matthew’s and Bill Stone

  20. Canuck
    April 18, 2013 at 2:14 pm

    Mike Boone. If you haven’t read about him, you should.

  21. Ex-Caver
    April 22, 2013 at 7:12 pm

    I am shocked that no one has mentioned Stephen Bishop. The guy rocked before the NSS, CRF, or the rest of it. All of this while a slave and no knowledge of speleology to draw upon.

  22. Cavert
    April 26, 2013 at 10:00 pm

    Bob Handley

  23. Adam
    May 1, 2013 at 11:09 am

    You have to go with Herb and Jan Conn, not only did they map a ton of virgin passage they were also world famous rock climbers.

  24. Daniel O. Chase
    May 12, 2013 at 1:00 am

    wow! so many great cavers to remember. I first thought of Marion O. Smith, and then of Bill Stone, but they are just of recent acclaim, in the last 20 years or so. 50 years ago, we were awed by people like Bill Cuddington, and texas cavers like Terry Raines. Back then, people like Art and Peggy Palmer were making history by mapping the 5th longest in the world, Blue Springs Cave in Indiana, no less, and Richard Shreiber with Della Mcguffin found Fantastic pit in Ellison’s. There sure are a lot of good ones that I’ve not met.

  25. Ernst H. Kastning
    July 7, 2013 at 6:34 am

    I agree with almost all of the names submitted to date, having personally known them or read about their work. I wish to add a name that most of you do not know: Robert W. Carroll, Jr. Bob Carroll was a lone caver who tirelessly searched for, explored, and mapped hundreds of remote caves in the northern woods of New York and New England. Most of these were talus or boulder caves. The shear dedication and effort by Bob was astounding during his lifetime. He is recognized for having found several talus cave systems that are thousands of feet in extent. His findings were (and still are) recounted in the Northeastern Caver (NRO official newsletter). His entire legacy was meticulously chronicled in over 20 hand-written, highly detailed notebooks that have been archived and scanned for researchers. It is mind-blowing to peruse this material.

  26. July 24, 2013 at 6:25 pm

    For W.Va. Its Doug Medville, for Va. its Phil Lucas.


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